OB-GYN Research Program Expands Opportunities for Students
The Program Has Led to Both Publications in Academic Journals and Presentations at National Conferences
The Obstetrics and Gynecology Summer Research Program at New York Medical College (NYMC) marked another successful year this July with more than 20 medical students participating in team research projects on a wide variety of OB-GYN related topics, including treatment for pudendal neuralgia, hypertension in pregnancy, sarcopenia among patients with cervix cancer and understanding patient perspectives about vaginal estrogen. Now in its third year, the program has led to both publications in academic journals and numerous presentations at national conferences for program participants.
“We developed the program using the team-based research model based on the understanding that while each participant has something to contribute to a project, very few know everything about conducting a research study and taking it through to publication,” said Cara Grimes, M.D., associate chair of research for the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology and associate professor of obstetrics and gynecology in the School of Medicine (SOM) and chief of advanced urogynecology and female pelvic medicine and reconstructive surgery at Westchester Medical Center. “This model of multiple team members learning research methodology together to tackle a research question has worked extremely well for us and that is evident through both the growth of the program and the research outcomes thus far.”
During the program, students match with a faculty mentor and join at least one research project, though most join multiple projects, and attend a series of lectures focused on teaching rigorous research methodology, including how to develop a research question and concept proposal, statistics and study design, quality improvement and how to write a manuscript. The program culminates with a student research presentation.
“This year we expanded the program to a seminar series of three to five lectures on specific research concepts, where we meet weekly and work through the steps of a research methodology using the current summer research projects as examples, while simultaneously troubleshooting obstacles that arise as the students conduct their work,” said Dr. Grimes.
Bracha Kreiman, SOM Class of 2025, conducted a student-led systematic review on the use of absorbable sutures in apical prolapse surgery when she participated in the program last summer. The study has since been published in the high-impact journal Obstetrics and Gynecology and was presented by Kreiman at two national conferences. “One of my most valuable experiences at NYMC has been conducting research with Dr. Grimes and the rest of the team during the summer research program,” said Kreiman, who has also created a manual for students on how to do systematic reviews and is now mentoring three students on the subject. “When I started as a first-year medical student, I had minimal clinical research skills. Through the guidance of Dr. Grimes and Patrick Popiel, M.D., [assistant professor of urology and of obstetrics and gynecology] I learned how to conduct systematic reviews in a hands-on fashion. Dr. Grimes has the unique ability to guide students through every aspect of research while at the same time encouraging them to take steps on their own and truly take ownership of their work.”
Rebecca Friedman, SOM Class of 2025, and Mikaela Glass, SOM Class of 2025, are continuing the systematic review they began last summer on how artificial intelligence can help improve diagnostic accuracy or healthcare management for medical providers in the field of gynecologic oncology. “The summer research program provides an opportunity to learn more about the field, get hands-on experience conducting research in multiple areas and understand and apply important concepts in clinical research,” said Friedman. “We also spent time in the clinic and operating room with attendings, which is a great way to learn how our research topics are applicable to real patients in their everyday lives.”
“I have participated in the program for two summers, once as a student and now as a student mentor,” said Glass. “Because of my participation in the program as a first-year student, I felt well-prepared to be a student mentor this year and to help develop a systematic review. I am very thankful for this program and for the OB-GYN faculty for orchestrating such a rewarding summer learning experience for students."
The research program has a strong track record of collaboration across the SOM academic departments, as well as the College’s other schools. “As someone who did not have research experience coming into medical school, the research program provided a really collaborative and productive space to be able to come up with ideas for research and fully flesh them out. Both faculty and upper-year students were so supportive, and I learned so much from them about the process of conducting research,” said Madelaine McElrath, SOM Class of 2025, whose project investigated how different topics in obstetrics and gynecology are discussed on TikTok, using a data-scraping program to search hashtags related to the topics of interest, such as #PCOS, #Papsmear or #Epidural. “Our goal was to learn who is creating content related to obstetrics and gynecology, what is being said and how this affects the ways that patients approach their gynecological care. Hopefully, this can be used to help providers better understand patient perspectives and improve communication and trust.”
“This summer, I had the opportunity to lead a team of 12 students working on qualitative projects looking at the impact of Twitter as a tool for communication on different themes within OB-GYN,” said Eva Chorna, SOM Class of 2025. “Each meeting brought about fruitful conversations based on a wide spectrum of interests and expertise. Leading this project was a very meaningful experience and I hope to continue throughout the year, with the goal of publishing multiple abstracts at national conferences.”
“Through this research experience, I have gained leadership and communication skills and the ability to work as a team, which is so important in learning to be a physician,” said Kreiman. “I would encourage every first-year student at NYMC to participate in research, as you truly never know what you will learn and the connections you will make will be invaluable.”